The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) today released a white paper, “Transportation Electrification: Utility Fleets Leading the Charge,” that focuses on the electric power industry’s effort to accelerate the expansion of electric transportation in commercial and retail markets, beginning with electric utility fleets. The paper encourages investor-owned electric utilities to meet an industry-wide goal to spend at least five percent of annual fleet acquisition budgets on plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) and technologies.
“The electric power industry is a tremendous leader in supporting electric transportation, but we must continue to strengthen our efforts and lead by example. One way we can do that is by leveraging our industry’s buying power to purchase more PEVs for our fleets,” said EEI President Tom Kuhn. “The white paper released today is a road map for a long-term, coordinated effort to further spur the development of electric vehicle technologies in the electric transportation market.”
To help guide the effort, investor-owned electric utility CEOs designated Tony Earley, chairman, CEO and president of PG&E Corporation, and Jim Piro, CEO and president of Portland General Electric, as co-chairs of the EEI Electric Transportation Task Force. The mission of the task force is to champion the issue of electrification by increasing the awareness, opportunities, and activities related to electrification within the utility industry; collaborating with automakers and other stakeholders; and educating the public at large about the benefits of electric vehicles and technologies.
“Plug-in cars and trucks can make good business sense whether you’re a utility or any other business that operates a fleet of vehicles,” said Jim Piro. “At PGE, we’ve been working hard to support electric vehicle policy and infrastructure in Oregon, but we’ve also done the internal analysis and piloting needed to confirm it’s time to build fleet electrification into our own budget. We encourage other utilities to do the same.”
According to the paper, electrification of the transportation sector is a potential “quadruple win” for electric utilities and society, and it will enable electric utilities to support environmental goals, build customer satisfaction, reduce operating costs, and assure the future value of existing assets.
“Expanding the use of plug-in technologies is one of the most important opportunities we have as a country to continue diversifying our energy usage and achieve our clean energy goals,” said Tony Earley. “Electrifying our fleets is about showing consumers that plug-in technology is thriving and delivers real benefits that make sense for us and our customers.”
The expansion of electric-based vehicles in utility fleets will help utilities:
- Reduce operating costs for fuel and maintenance;
- Extend useful lives of the units based on their mechanical simplicity;
- Improve crew safety through noise reduction (i.e., the ability to operate a bucket truck at height and still communicate with crew members on the ground);
- Extend work hours of crews performing non-emergency work in communities with noise restrictions;
- Reduce carbon emissions;
- Provide another avenue to engage customers about the products and services electric utilities provide.
The white paper is part of an effort to accelerate the adoption of PEVs and plug-in technologies by utilities, and it was written by a steering committee comprised of utility fleet directors from across the country.